Retired Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco knows a little something abut hitting home runs. He and Mark McGwire became known as the “Bash Brothers” for their long-ball prowess in their days with the Oakland A’s. They also both became two of the most prominent faces in baseball’s steroids era.
In light of the sign-stealing, cheating scandal by the Houston Astros in 2017, and many current athletes saying the Astros players should have been punished for their involvement, Canseco said he would have rather known which pitches were coming to him instead of taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), if he had a choice.
Canseco tweeted his thoughts Wednesday evening.
“It is a huge Advantage knowing what pitch is coming if I had a choice between using Peds and knowing was Pitch was coming I would pick knowing what Pitch was coming,” Canseco wrote.
For those who don’t know Canseco, author of a book that called out fellow big leaguers who he claimed took steroids, he entered the major leagues with the Oakland A’s in 1985, and won the American League Rookie of the Year in 1986. In 1988, he hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases and won the American League MVP award.
Canseco won a World Series with the A’s in 1989 when they defeated the San Francisco Giants, and he was eventually traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1994 before journeying around the league before retirement in 2002.
Canseco faced a slew of off-field problems, including multiple charges of aggravated battery over the years.
In June 2003, he violated his parole when he tested positive for steroids, but that charge was eventually dropped by prosecutors.
In 2005, he released his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big. It alleged how certain prominent players in the league rose to stardom by juicing up with PEDs, including Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.
Canceso testified before Congress during its hearing in 2005 on whether or not professional baseball players used steroids, or any other PEDs.
In 2008 he released another book, Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball.
Fast forward to January 2020, when MLB found the Houston Astros guilty of using electronics to steal pitching signs from the opposing team’s catcher, and relaying the upcoming pitch to Astros hitters.
The MLB investigation began after former Astros player Mike Fiers came forward last November to say his team used electronic sign-stealing during that season’s World Series championship run.
The sign-stealing scheme involved a video camera set up in centerfield at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, and videos of signals being recorded, decoded and sent to the dugout with a buzzing sound. The information was then relayed to hitters by banging trash cans, and that would supposedly let the hitters know what pitch to expect.
MLB suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season without pay, and former assistant GM Brandon Taubman is ineligible to perform any services for any other baseball club for the 2020 season. In addition, the Astros were fined $5 million and must forfeit its first- and second-round draft picks in both 2020 and 2021.
None of the Astros players were punished, and the suspended managerial staff were all fired by the Astros.
Now, baseball players from around the league, and even megastars in other sports like NBA’s LeBron James, have called out MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for not reprimanding the players, and many feel the World Series title should be stripped from Houston, which won its only World Series title that season.
Canseco’s case makes it clear that while players from the steroid era feel like they are being punished, players who use a sign-stealing advantage to know which pitch is coming should be punished as well.
Or, if he had to do it all over again, would rather have the advantage of knowing what pitch he was about to face instead of using steroids.